• Larson wants to build his own legacy in Ganassi's No. 42

    Updated: 23 hr ago

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Larson, flashing his new Rolex watch, was unfazed Thursday after learning Chase Elliott was going to replace Jeff Gordon in the iconic No. 24. Many NASCAR fans have believed that Larson was the heir apparent to the four-time champion, a notion Gordon fueled with constant praise of the reigning Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year. Only Larson drives for Chip Ganassi Racing, and says he is happy right where he is behind the wheel of the No. 42 Chevrolet. Gordon announced last week that 2015 will be his last in the car, and Hendrick Motorsports has named 19-year-old Elliott has his replacement. "That's cool for him," Larson said. "I'm happy where I'm at. Just flip-flop the number, I'm good.

  • Wisconsin coach Chryst reinforcing recruiting ties back home


    MILWAUKEE (AP) — New Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst is reinforcing recruiting ties back in his home state with national signing day approaching. Chryst returned to Wisconsin from Pittsburgh, where he coached for three seasons. He replaced Gary Andersen, who left the Badgers last month to take the same job at Oregon State. Chryst was born in Madison and played at Wisconsin. He says it is important to keep Wisconsin's best players home, though it's just as important to sign kids from outside the region. That's a must in a Big Ten Conference featuring national champion Ohio State. Wisconsin high school coaches say they are glad to have Chryst back, too, given his familiarity with the state. Next Wednesday is the traditional

  • Omar Minaya leaves Padres, joins union as adviser


    NEW YORK (AP) — Omar Minaya is switching sides. The former New York Mets general manager left his job as senior vice president of the San Diego Padres on Thursday to become a special adviser to Major League Baseball Players Association head Tony Clark. Born in the Dominican Republic, Minaya started in baseball management as a scout for the Texas Rangers, where he helped sign Sammy Sosa. He became the major leagues' first Hispanic general manager with the Montreal Expos from 2002 to 2004. He left the Expos to become GM of his hometown Mets, who fired him after the 2010 season. He was hired by the Padres in December 2011 as senior VP of baseball operations under GM Josh Byrnes, who was fired last June.

  • French midfielder Benoit Cheyrou joins MLS's Toronto FC


    TORONTO (AP) — Former Marseille midfielder Benoit Cheyrou has signed with Major League Soccer and joined Toronto FC. The 33-year-old Cheyrou could pair with American midfielder Michael Bradley in center of the midfield. He helped Marseille win the French league title in 2010 and consecutive French League Cups in 2010, 2011, and 2012. His agreement was announced Thursday.

  • Big 12/SEC Challenge moving to January during league play


    The Big 12 and SEC are moving their non-conference challenge series to late January, right in the middle of league play. The two conferences announced Thursday that the annual 10-game Big 12/SEC Challenge, played over several days in early December this season, will be held on Jan. 30 next year. SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby both say the date change will raise the profile of the event. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU again will combine to televise all 10 games in the challenge, which will be held for the third time next season. Each league hosts five games, and the matchups for next season will be determined later. The four SEC teams not included in the challenge will be matched in conferen

  • Alabama hires Mel Tucker as DBs coach/assistant head coach


    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama has hired former NFL defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as defensive backs coach and assistant head coach. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban announced the hiring on Thursday of Tucker, who has coached in the NFL and college for 18 years. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will return to working with inside linebackers after coaching the secondary last season. Tucker was the Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator the past two seasons after holding the same position with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2009-12. Saban, who hired Tucker as a graduate assistant at Michigan State, calls him "an outstanding coach all the way around." Tucker says "most of what I learned as a defensive backs coach ca

  • Russia to cut budget for 2018 World Cup amid economic woes


    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia will cut the budget for hosting the 2018 World Cup as part of plans to slash state expenditure while recession looms, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Thursday. The Russian government is cutting its spending by 10 percent across the board after the central bank predicted last month that the economy could contract 4.5 to 4.7 percent this year, under pressure from low oil prices and international sanctions. Mutko, also a FIFA executive committee member, said in comments reported by the Tass news agency that World Cup stadiums and associated infrastructure would be exempt from the cuts. However, "various organizational issues" and "subsidies to the organizing committee" would be cut, he said, along wit

  • College basketball: Big 12/SEC Challenge moving to January in 2016

    BY RYAN ABER, Staff Writer, raber@opubco.com | Published: Thu, Jan 29, 2015

    The Big 12/SEC Challenge is moving to later in the season. The conferences announced Thursday that the third-annual men's basketball event next season would be played Jan. 30, 2016 with the conferences creating a common open date during conference play to accommodate the schedule. “We are excited to move this even to January to provide the Big 12 a unique showcase and help ESPN give the Big 12/SEC Challenge the attention it deserves,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “Our teams have shown a commitment to scheduling tough non-conference opponents and should be commended for setting a new standard by placing a key non-league matchup in the middle of the conference season.

  • Austin Dillon looks to join 'chaos' in Year 2 in No. 3 car


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — While driving Dale Earnhardt's legendary black No. 3 Chevrolet last season was the experience of a lifetime for Austin Dillon, "nothing crazy happened" in his rookie season. He wants that to change in 2015. "We have to start getting crazier," Dillon said Thursday at NASCAR's annual media tour event. "We have to make things happen. We need to be in the Chase. We need to be a part of the chaos at the end of the year." Dillon had just one top-five and four top-10 finishes in his first season at the Sprint Cup level driving one of NASCAR's most recognizable cars. That lack of production kept him out of the Chase's new playoff-style format implemented in 2014.

  • Auburn opens 2015 Louisville schedule featuring 7 bowl teams


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville will face Auburn in Atlanta to open the 2015 schedule featuring seven bowl participants and five schools that won at least eight games last season. The Cardinals and Tigers will meet for just the second time on Sept. 5 in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff at the Georgia Dome. Houston visits Louisville a week later to begin a six-game home schedule highlighted by a Sept. 17 showdown against Clemson in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener. The Tigers held off the Cardinals 23-17 in last year's game in South Carolina. Louisville's other home opponents in the full league schedule released on Thursday include FCS school Samford, Boston College, Syracuse and Virginia. The Cardinals' five-game road sc

  • Guinea ride luck into African Cup knockout games


    BATA, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — Guinea beat Mali to a place in the African Cup of Nations quarterfinals thanks to a lucky break in a random draw conducted at a hotel on Thursday. Guinea joins the likes of Algeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana in the last eight. Mali, after losing the cruel lottery, goes home. Here's why Guinea progressed through sheer chance, and some other things to know, ahead of the African soccer championship's first knockout games this weekend: ___ GUINEA GETS LUCK OF THE DRAW: There was no other way to separate Guinea and Mali after they had three identical 1-1 draws in Group D to tie for second behind Ivory Coast. That meant the drawing of lots under tournament rules. An official from each

  • Guinea wins drawing of lots to reach African Cup quarters


    MALABO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — Guinea won the drawing of lots for a spot in the African Cup of Nations quarterfinals on Thursday by choosing a green ball with the No. 2 printed on a piece of paper on the inside. Amara Dabo, an official with Guinea's sports ministry, picked the winning ball out of a bowl at the start of an organizing committee meeting at a hotel in Malabo. That meant Guinea finished second in Group D and eliminated Mali. Guinea will next face Ghana on Sunday in the quarterfinals. The two teams were forced to draw lots after finishing all three of their group matches 1-1. The Ivory Coast won the group by beating Cameroon 1-0 on Wednesday and will next face Algeria.

  • Rejuvenated McLaren shows off new Honda-powered car for 2015


    WOKING, England (AP) — Energized by a restructured driver lineup and a renewed relationship with Honda, McLaren showed off its new Formula One car that the English team expects will restore its fortunes. The McLaren MP4-30 was launched on Thursday, with chief executive Ron Dennis saying it marks "the start of a lengthy journey" back to "winning grands prix and eventually world championships." McLaren, which hasn't won a grand prix since 2012, will be using Honda engines for the first time since 1992, and has signed two-time world champion Fernando Alonso to partner Jenson Button for the upcoming season.

  • IOC, UNESCO push for better phys ed in schools


    LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Olympic Committee and other international organizations are urging governments to improve physical education in schools. The IOC, along with UNESCO and other bodies, released new guidelines Thursday aimed at getting young people to do more exercise and play more sport. IOC President Thomas Bach says "physical education in schools is crucial if we are to get the couch potatoes off the couch." The IOC said in a statement that it will collaborate with UNESCO to "ensure physical education is an integral part of school curricula to promote a healthy mind in a healthy body.

  • Blatter joins FIFA election race without naming nominees


    GENEVA (AP) — Beating the entry deadline by hours on Thursday, Sepp Blatter formally joined a FIFA presidential contest he is widely expected to win. Blatter published a low-key message on Twitter confirming an expected bid to extend his scandal-scarred, 17-year leadership of football's wealthy governing body by four more years. "Today is a key date in the electoral calendar. I've made my submission, now the electoral committee follow a process," wrote Blatter, who is headed to the Asian Cup final in Sydney on Saturday. Blatter could travel with confidence, knowing Asia is home to some of his most loyal supporters.

  • DeMarco Murray says he's prepared to play elsewhere

    Published: Thu, Jan 29, 2015

    Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray stopped by the Dan Patrick show on Thursday morning (you can watch the entire interview here ), and said that he's prepared to play elsewhere in 2015 if he doesn't re-sign with the Cowboys. "Yeah. I understand the business aspect of it," Murray said when asked by Patrick if he's prepared to play for another team next season. "There's no hard feelings if we can't reach a deal together, but hopefully we can and we'll see what happens." Murray, who led the NFL in rushing in 2014 (1,845 yards), is a free agent entering the offseason. The former OU running back said it wasn't so much about a final pay day or big contract, but "at the end of the day, it's about winning a Super Bowl." "I don't know yet. We're just taking it day-by-day. We're not worried about it too much right now," Murray said of his contract negotiations. "We just wrapped up the Pro Bowl. We'll touch bases when we have to, but right now we don't." Patrick went on to ask Murray if both he and current Cowboys teammate Dez Bryant can both be re-signed. It's been widely debated whether or not the Cowboys can ( or should ) keep Murray, Bryant, or both. "You're asking the wrong guy," Murray said. "Hopefully, when it's all said and done, we both remain there. We've built a great foundation along with coach (Jason) Garrett and the rest of the team. I think that team is heading in the right direction." Murray's former OU teammate Sam Bradford  also addressed questions about his future Wednesday on WWLS 98.1 FM.

  • Chase Elliott to replace Jeff Gordon in No. 24 next season


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Chase Elliott will replace Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Chevrolet when the four-time NASCAR champion gives up his seat at the end of this season. The announcement Thursday was expected because Elliott is the reigning Xfinity Series champion and one of NASCAR's most promising young talents. Hendrick Motorsports had to find a seat for him at NASCAR's top level or risk losing the 19-year-old to another organization in 2016. Gordon, who announced his plan last week to retire from full-time driving, told The Associated Press he believes Elliott is the perfect choice to replace him. "Chase is extraordinary," Gordon told AP of Elliott, who is the youngest champion in the history of NASCAR's second-tier se

  • Neymar leaves no one indifferent with goals and swagger


    BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Neymar's two-goal performance to help knock Atletico Madrid out of the Copa del Rey showed why Barcelona spared no expense to win the bidding war for the young Brazilian striker. With his speed and quick dribbling, Neymar scored from two counterattacks started by Lionel Messi to lead Barcelona to a 3-2 win and into the semifinals on a 4-2 aggregate score on Wednesday. "''He is daring. He provides us with so many things with his goals and his ability to challenge on the dribble," said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique. Last season, Neymar's first goal in Barcelona's burgundy-and-blue came against Atletico to give Barcelona the Spanish Super Cup, its only title from a disappointing campaign.

  • 2016 Rio Olympic torch relay to reach 90 percent of people


    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Organizers of the torch relay for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro say it will visit 250 towns and cities across Brazil, reaching 90 percent of its 200 million people. Organizers gave few specific details about the exact route on Thursday, with the games 18 months away. The torch relay will cross all 26 states, and is expected to start about 100 days before the games open on Aug. 5, 2016, at Maracana Stadium. The torch relay will give millions the chance to participate in the games, said Carlos Nuzman, president of the organizing committee. At least 10,000 torchbearers will be needed.

  • Tim Pernetti out at NYCFC; Tom Glick hired as team president


    NEW YORK (AP) — New York City FC is replacing its leader before playing its first game in Major League Soccer. The expansion team said Thursday that Tim Pernetti will leave his job as chief business officer after its March 8 opener. NYCFC says Pernetti has been hired as president of multimedia for WME, IMG's college business. Tom Glick will become NYCFC president Sunday. Glick is a former NBA executive who has worked for sister club Manchester City for the past two years. NYCFC has been criticized after its parent company allowed star midfielder Frank Lampard to stay with Manchester City through the end of the Premier League season. NYCFC announced last summer that Lampard and David Villa would be its most well-known